Ground Coffee Storage: In the Freezer, Fridge, or on the Counter?

Coffee Stored In The FreezerYou might be surprised, but the topic of where to store your coffee can be quite the debate.

There are some who are adamant that storing their grounds in the freezer or fridge helps it to last longer. Meanwhile, others will say that the moisture in those areas is simply too much.

How do you know which option is right? Is it really such a big deal?

Luckily, we’re here to clear that debate up for you so that you’ll know how and where to store your coffee so that it stays fresh for as long as possible. We’ll also take a look into whether grounds or whole coffee beans are easier to store.

Read on to find the answers to this debate!

Is It Really A Big Deal Where I Store My Coffee?

If you’re new to coffee, then you may not have even thought about how or where to store it.

You might think that it doesn’t really matter, or that it’s probably fine in the container you purchased it in.

However, in most cases coffee is at it’s peak state right after it has been roasted. After just a few days, the freshness will start to decline.

For the most part, you can expect your ground coffee to be okay for up to around two weeks, while whole beans can last as long as a month. This is because the smaller particles of ground coffee can oxidize more quickly.

Therefore, if you’re looking for your coffee to last longer then it’s a good idea to purchase whole coffee beans and grind them yourself on an as-needed basis.

Regardless of which you decide to buy, you can also try buying smaller amounts so that they are consumed before their freshness peak has ended. This might mean you need to shop for coffee more often, but the flavor and fresh state of the beans may be worth it!

Storing It In The Freezer Or Fridge

The biggest problem with storing coffee in the freezer or fridge if the moisture involved.

While it’s not typically thought of as unsafe, the coffee beans can have a habit of absorbing the moisture, which can result in some damage to the essential oils in the beans themselves.

There are some who may argue that the air in the fridge or freezer is perfectly dry. Though that may be true, the moisture comes into play when the door is opened and close. This can result in temperature changes that foster moisture.

While it may only be temporary, it can take only a small amount of moisture to cause real damage.

Many of us do tend to think of the fridge and freezer to be places to keep food as fresh as possible. After all, it’s true for many other foods like vegetables, meat and even bread. However, the same just isn’t true for your coffee beans.

If you package the beans exceptionally well, then you may be able to store them in the freezer and keep them in a consumable shape for quite a bit longer than other options. The problem with this is that they will also lose texture and flavor as long as they are frozen.

Ultimately, it’s going to be up to you to decide whether you want your coffee beans to last a long time or offer the ideal flavor. In extreme situations, it can be better than letting coffee go stale and unusable.

If it helps to further your decision, there is an experiment that was made that shows it can be possible to freeze beans and still be able to please those who may be more picky about the quality of the flavor. Do keep in mind that if you try this, it can help to get the beans into the freezer as quickly as you can after purchasing them.

If you also separate them into single portion sizes, or whatever size you tend to use, then it can avoid further problems that can be caused by thawing and re-freezing beans.

Between the freezer and fridge, it’s also going to be more likely that your beans will obtain moisture while in the fridge, simply because it isn’t made to keep things frozen. In the freezer, beans may also run the risk of freezer burn if they aren’t stored in an airtight container.

Storing It On The Counter

There are many people who may simply keep their coffee on the counter. It’s convenient and allows you easy access.

However, there can also be problems with this method.

Firstly, it’s out in the open and therefore more vulnerable to the air. Air alone can cause the beans to oxidize and begin to lose freshness.

Second to that, moisture in the air can cause the same kinds of problems you might find in the fridge or freezer. If the container is able to allow air inside, this can become a problem. That is particularly true if you live in a more humid climate.

Finally, heat and light can also be enemies to your coffee beans. Just as you might expect with other foods, heat can potentially cause coffee to go bad more quickly.

If you have a corner counter that sees light less often and is away from heat-producing appliances like the dishwasher or microwave then it may be able to work. That said, there are many better options that will be able to ensure a greater amount of freshness and better flavor from your beans.

Where Is The Best Place?

So if you can’t store it in the fridge, freezer or on the counter, what do you do?

It may seem like there’s no truly ideal place, but that just isn’t true!

If you have a pantry or even just a cupboard that keeps food out of the light and in a cooler space then that’s the way to go.

In the cool, dark space there will be much less of a chance that the beans can be effected by heat, moisture or excess air. Therefore, there will be more of a chance that it will stay as fresh as possible until you’ve had a chance to enjoy every bean.

For those who tend to store foods in their garage, this can often be a great place because it tends to be cooler than the rest of the house. Just make sure there isn’t a lot of light in your garage for the ideal results.

You’ll be able to avoid a lot of ruined coffee by storing it in the right place and in the right kind of container.

What Kind Of Container Should I Use?

If you buy coffee grounds or beans in a bag, it can be easy to set them in the pantry and forget about them. After all, it wouldn’t be in the store that way if the bag didn’t work, right?

That may be true until you open it, but once the bag has been opened then air has a much better chance of getting into the grounds.

Because of that, it’s important to make sure you move them into an airtight container. If you have a container that is opaque or darker in color, then that can also be a big help. It can help to keep any light that might enter into the pantry or cupboard from effecting your coffee beans.

The material that container is made out of can also make a difference. The ideal option would be something that is not only airtight, but made from ceramic, a non-reactive metal or an opaque glass. If you’re keen to shop, we have a great selection of airtight coffee containers well worth a look!

If you have a storage space that is opened up less often and is able to keep things especially cool and dark then a clear glass container can work. The same is true for plastic, which may be more convenient to buy and keep around.

On top of this storage, buying smaller portions at a time will ensure that you have fresh coffee as you need it. It may require a bit more work because you’ll have to make trips to buy coffee beans more often but if you value fresh flavor, it will be worth it.

Otherwise, you can get acceptable results from storing your coffee beans in the freezer if you take the right precautions. They may not contain the freshest flavor after being frozen, but it’s still a much better option than having completely inedible beans.

Wherever you decide to store your coffee, just make sure it’s in an airtight container and unable to be effected by moisture. This will be key to fresh, great tasting coffee.

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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